In order to provide quality assurance, free and voluntary home visits are offered throughout Austria to recipients of long-term care benefit, while obligatory home visits are carried out in the case of persons applying for subsidies for 24-hour care.
Due to the health situation with regard to the coronavirus and the fact that people in need of care and their relatives represent a special risk group, but also to protect the people who make the home visits, depending on the current infection situation, the home visits in the context of quality assurance in home care are not carried out.
Quality assurance by means of home visits
As part of quality assurance in care provided at home, free and voluntary home visits to recipients of long-term care benefit who are looked after in their home environment are commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs. Since 1 October 2018, obligatory home visits are also made throughout Austria to persons applying for support for 24-hour care, independently of the type of qualifications held by the carer (see Section 21b para. 2 (5), subparas a, b and c BPGG).
The objective of quality assurance in care at home is – via personal contact with the recipients of long-term care benefit and their carers by qualified nurses – to determine the actual care situation using situation reports, and if required to provide necessary information and advice in order to ensure that those affected get the support they need for everyday care.
In the Social Insurance Institution for the Self-Employed, a competence centre for quality assurance in care at home has been established for this purpose which organises and coordinates home visits for all long-term care benefit decision-makers.
The care situation is surveyed on the basis of a concept developed by the Research Institute of the Economy of Ageing of Vienna University of Economics and Business. The concept considers six areas of life which can be influenced by support and care (functional living conditions, personal hygiene, medical and nursing care, nutrition including liquids, and activities/employment/social life. The evaluation system can be seen in the table below.
|A||The person is cared for fully and reliably|
|B||Minor reduction of quality of life; needs are not completely covered|
|C+||Their mental/physical health could be impaired if the situation does not improve|
|C-||Their mental/physical health is impaired.|
The quality of care
Since 2015 it has also been possible to apply to the Competence Centre for Quality Assurance in Care at Home for a free home visit by a qualified nurse. Home visits on request can be arranged free of charge throughout Austria by e-mail to email@example.com or by telephone on +50 808 20 87.
The findings of an evaluation of home visits and how they reflect the care situation can be viewed on the website of the Social Insurance Institution of the Self-Employed.
The toolkit of quality assurance in care at home
For practical application, a toolkit has been developed in which the structure of the surveying tool is explained, the concept and the quality indicators are presented, and which particularly serves as an orientation aid for nurses.
Quality assurance in 24-hour care
Obligatory home visits at recipients of subsidies in 24-hour care
As part of quality assurance in care provided at home, home visits are carried out to recipients of subsidies for 24-hour care.
As in the case of voluntary home visits for recipients of long-term care benefit, the visits are coordinated and carried out for all long-term care benefit decision-makers by the Social Insurance Institution for the Self-Employed.
The care situation is surveyed analogously by the Research Institute of the Economy of Ageing of the Vienna University of Economics and Business. The concept considers six areas of life which can be influenced by support and care (functional living conditions, personal hygiene, medical and nursing care, nutrition including liquids, and activities/employment/social life).
The findings of the evaluation of the home visits can be found on the website of the Social Insurance Institution for the Self-Employed.
Pilot scheme for unannounced home visits in 24-hour care
After various authorities, such as the national audit office or the ombudsman’s office, had expressed the opinion that the very good results of home visits were influenced by them being announced in advance, and that unannounced visits would lead to a different outcome, the Ministry of Social Affairs has carried out a pilot scheme with unannounced visits since the beginning of January 2019 – i.e. applicants do not receive a letter in advance stating when the home visit will take place.
If entry is refused in the case of an unannounced home visit, the persons carrying out the visit have to ask for a reason for the refusal and record it.
In the next step, an announced home visit is carried out soon afterwards, whereby the appointment is – if possible – already agreed on site with the nurse at the time when the unannounced visit is refused. Nurses are given the details of contact persons they can get in touch with by the Ministry of Social Affairs in case questions arise during the attempted visit.
- In 2019, the pilot project was carried out in the provinces of Vienna and Tyrol.
- In 2020 and 2021, the pilot project was discontinued due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
- The pilot project will be continued in 2022.
Second home visit in the case of missing and insufficient delegation
The performance of nursing/medical activities without appropriate delegation constitutes an administrative offence under the GuKG and ÄrzteG and is punishable by a fine. Therefore, a second home visit in case of missing/insufficient delegation was introduced at the end of 2019, in the context of which the proper delegation will be checked.
The project will be continued in 2022, as counselling on the lawful execution of certain medical and nursing activities as well as their control is essential for the safety of the person in need of care and also represents valuable support for the person in need of care, their relatives and the 24-hour caregivers.
The Austrian quality certificate for employment agencies offering 24-hour care services ÖQZ 24)
The Austrian quality certificate for employment agencies offering 24-hour care services is an important measure in relation to quality assurance. The certificate is intended to improve the situation of all those involved and in this way to contribute towards a sustainable increase in the quality of care and support. Further information is available in the section on ÖQZ 24.